THE hoisting of a flag confirmed that the Rangers had returned to the Premiership. Elevation of one will confirm that they are champions again.
The âGoing for 55â message – spelled out at Sandy Jardine’s booth – didn’t just become a mantra, it was a way of life for supporters. It was the goal that all managers had to aim for, the ambition that the players had to strive to achieve.
Five years later, another flag of the league will be displayed in Ibrox. This one is simply the best, better than all the rest.
No other achievement carries the same burden of history or the weight of expectation, and the actions of Steven Gerrard and his players will forever be referred to in the tenderest terms.
As the cordon is drawn this afternoon, the emotions of March and May will once again flow through the veins of the supporters. The smiles will be wide, visceral roars and tears just might fill the eyes.
The hugs can be shared with the other fans around them in the stands, while thoughts will naturally turn to those – from family members to former players – who have seen the Rangers fall but no longer get up. Today’s toast is for absent friends.
The late and great Sandy Jardine would fly the Third Division flag as the Rangers took their first steps on the road to recovery. It would unfortunately be the last he would see.
Twelve months later, the League One flag fluttered on the grandstand that now bears his name as Ally McCoist paid tribute to Jardine and Lee McCulloch took his place to do the honors.
It was an emotional occasion. The next one will be too, but for different reasons, as the Rangers prepare for their first high-level flight in a decade.
The decision to move Flag Day from its traditional date to the Campaign Opening Weekend keeps Ibrox looking his best. It will be an afternoon to savor, an afternoon as important to Rangers’ past as it is to their future.
The Premiership was won and celebrated in isolation. Today, fans will be together in body rather than spirit as Gerrard, his staff and players are hailed with Ibrox power.
Others before them had failed. Indeed, on two occasions, they too had failed and had only added to the history of misfortune rather than closing a chapter in the history of the Rangers.
Their success was not a case of third chance. It was a reward for their improvement and perseverance and a justification for the loyalty of those who followed them from near and far.
Football, like life itself, owes no one anything, but there is no support in the country that has endured as much as Rangers fans over the past decade.
Regardless of the color of your scarf, it would be rude not to recognize the role they played and the sacrifices – both personal and financial – that were made along the way.
When the flags of the Third Division and League 1 were raised, these were boxes checked and signposts on the road to recovery achieved. The hat trick turned out to be more difficult, but not as stressful as the one that completed the set.
The years have been painful to live and are agonizing to remember, but they have been enveloped in the relief and joy that 55 has brought.
Those feelings will never subside and the Rangers continue to enjoy the glory heading into Game 6 of their home title defense against Motherwell.
There are moments from the last few seasons that will live on forever with the supporters and events that will be passed down from generation to generation to those who follow in their team’s footsteps.
Dave King, John Gilligan and Paul Murray win AGM. Appointment of Steven Gerrard as Director. Victory over St Mirren in March. James Tavernier holding the trophy in the air in May.
Each is as alive in spirit today as it was when seen live. These are important chapters, but don’t tell the whole story of the Rangers.
The day the Championship flag was unfurled and that famous slogan was waved in the air was an important moment in Rangers history. Few would have believed that it would take that long for the next one to arrive.
The action that followed the ceremony in 2016 was an appetizer of what was to come for the Rangers. The most tumultuous period in their history is behind them, but the immediate future will not bring the much sought-after success.
Mark Warburton later admitted that his heart had “sank” when he saw the message in red, white and blue colors on the Sandy Jardine booth. Just 90 minutes later, his fears were reaffirmed as the Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Hamilton Accies.
Through all the trials and tribulations, false dawn and overwhelming embarrassment, the Rangers’ goal has remained the same. Despite everything, they still wanted 55.
This number would have a unique meaning for supporters. It wasn’t just silverware or status, it represented the end of “The Journey”, the moment when a club, an institution, which had become the ultimate fallen giant, stood tall and proud again. .
The Rangers will be forever indebted to those who secured and facilitated Title 55. Some contributed more, but every effort made was important in and of itself.
The three points offered against Motherwell are more integral to Rangers’ future, but pre-game memories and celebrations define the past. Gerrard needs to make sure the party doesn’t get spoiled by visitors like five seasons ago.
The focus was and had to shift to 56 for the Rangers. The challenge now is to keep the blue flag high.